From heroin and gender violence to growing confidence and bystander training, the college’s leadership workshops prepare students for whatever life may have for them.
According to Louis Coplin, director of student life, the workshops aim to help students develop their leadership skills through information sharing and teaching them to express their views and debate issues. The objective is to learn to be civil in disagreement, negotiate, and become keen listeners. “Even if you walk away not in agreement, you have a better understanding of a topic based on one’s ability to listen,” he said.
Two more workshops are scheduled for the remaining Mondays in February. The first will be held on the Jan. 22 in CTR 150 from 3 to 4 p.m. and is titled “Talk-The-Talk: How to Adopt an Academic Voice.” Marlo Daniels from the Center for Academic Engagement will give students practical ideas on effective speech and present tips on the mechanics of making oneself heard.
On Feb. 29, Larry Ellis, associate director of the Wellness Center, will present students with his workshop on emotional wellness in CTR 270 from 3 to 4 p.m. This workshop will focus on what emotional wellness is and how to have an optimistic outlook on life despite negative experiences.
“Really, the idea is to help students become very broad in their perspective and scope, comfortable in speaking in front of other students and debating issues of major interest, and improve their overall profile as they continue to progress academically,” said Coplin.
Attendance this year has not been as high as Coplin would like it to be, averaging anywhere from eight to 14 students per session as opposed to the 20 to 25 attendees last year. To give students an incentive to attend, there are two raffles at the conclusion of each workshop that allow students who stayed the whole session to win movie tickets. Refreshments are also available during each meeting.
In order to increase attendance and provide campus with more qualified, prepared leaders, Coplin has spoken with Student Senate president Everett McNair about making leadership workshop attendance part of the suggested criteria for candidates seeking election as student senate officers. “We know that [the workshops] enhance their perspective, leadership opportunity, and knowledge base. If nothing else, it gives that candidate something else to add to their campaign speech that another candidate may not have,” Coplin said.
Twenty years ago, Coplin birthed the idea that every two weeks, there was an open time that allowed faculty, staff and students to sit on a panel to talk about pressing topics of the day. “Back then, this was called Express Yourself and was focused more on current events and social issues. As we have moved forward, we’ve kept the social issue concept, but also infused a leadership-skill development component to that process.”
Upcoming workshops for the remainder of the spring semester will focus on topics such as heroin, violence against women, growing your confidence, and emergency preparedness. Students can check out the college calendar on the website for the full list of workshops as well as their dates and locations.
McNair believes that these leadership workshops are for students across all disciplines, even if they are not currently in positions of authority. “Everyone, in one capacity or another, is a leader or will in their lifetime have a leadership position, whether it be having children, working in a job, or being a manager, head waitress, or head life guard,” he said. “A lot of the leadership skills are also people skills that I think anyone can use.”